Remembrance of Eyewitness Testimony: Effects of Emotional Content, Self-Relevance, and Emotional Tone1


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    The authors thank Mark Prokosch for assistance. The first author was supported in part by a fellowship from NIMH (Grant T32 MH20006).

Stephanie D. Block, Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Campus Box 8115, 100 East Franklin Street, Suite 200, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8115. E-mail:


This experiment concerned the effects of emotional content, self-relevance, and emotional tone of testimony on memory. Eyewitness accounts of 4 events were constructed that systematically differed in emotionality and self-relevance. The testimony, captured on videotape, was expressed with or without negative emotion. After viewing one of the videotaped accounts, participants were administered cued-recall and recognition memory tests. Significant main effects indicated that participants best remembered testimony that was emotional in content, self-relevant, and negatively expressed. Although emotional content and self-relevance interacted to affect state anxiety, the latter did not mediate memory effects. Overall, significant gender differences in state anxiety but not memory emerged. Implications for understanding the influence of emotion on juror memory are discussed.